Like the tango, running a competitor through a course of fire takes two Range Officers who work as a team. This is something we stress repeatedly in the RO seminar, so let’s look at the reasons why.
There are two Range Officer jobs on each stage. The timer RO and the scorekeeper RO. The timer RO issues the range commands, runs the timer, and has the primary job of watching the firearm and all the other things that ROs need to watch for. The scorekeeper RO enters scores into the tablet, but that is not their only job. The scorekeeper is the second RO on the stage and needs to also help watch the shooter and firearm. The scorekeeper also can call “stop” if needed.
Okay, you are probably asking why we really need two ROs. Well, there are a ton of things that the RO needs to watch for. Foot faults, finger inside the trigger guard, 180 breaks, sweeping, target engagement, range equipment failures, and the list goes on and on (good thing we have it all listed in the rulebook).
At major matches, with dedicated stage staff, ROs are always working as a team. But often at local matches, there is a single RO on a squad and that person is expected to do all the work. That isn’t fair to the RO. They got into this sport to shoot just like everyone else, and speaking from experience, if I have to RO most of a squad, my match scores are more dismal than normal. Another thing seen at local matches is the second RO, who is holding the tablet, only pays attention after “Range is clear” and is talking with others while a competitor is shooting the stage. This leaves the timer RO to run the stage solo. This is not a good situation.
Remember, that for local matches, Range Officers do not have to be certified (see Appendix A1). For local matches, the rules only recommend at least one certified RO per stage. And the rules don’t say that the one certified RO has to do all the work. Which means, you can train new people to at least run the tablet and help be scorekeeper (USPSA members have access to Practiscore training videos). These ROs in training can also can be a second set of eyes on the competitor. Yeah, they may not know all the rules, but most competitors understand the rules enough to identify a violation. More experienced competitors, who have a better grasp of the rules, can be trained to run the timer.
The more ROs (certified or not) that are on each squad helps spread the RO jobs around so everyone can enjoy shooting the local match and only have to run a few shooters versus the entire squad. If your club is really short of ROs, think about scheduling a RO class. Don’t have enough interested members in your club? Work with your neighboring clubs or your section to fill the class.